Lectionary Scriptures and Comments

Posts tagged ‘Acts of the Apostles’

Questioning Our Loyalty 011713

English: Streetwalker by moonlight

English: Streetwalker by moonlight (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mennonite Buggy

Mennonite Buggy (Photo credit: *Muhammad*)

Acts of the Apostles, Waltham Abbey

Acts of the Apostles, Waltham Abbey (Photo credit: TheRevSteve)

Questioning Our Loyalty 011713

Jeremiah

Jeremiah (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

 

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

Today’s Scriptures Click the following links to read today’s scriptures or scroll to the very bottom of this blog post for those scriptures also. Lectionary Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

Psalm 36:5-10 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%2036:5-10&version=MSG

 

Jeremiah 3:1-5 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah%203:1-5&version=MSG

 

Acts 8:18-24 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts%208:18-24&version=MSG

 

Questioning Our Loyalty 011713

 

We may sometimes find ourselves in the position of questioning someone’s loyalty, even though we humbly have no right or license to do so.

 

But today’s scriptures are different and more severe. In Jeremiah 3 our loyalty to God is questioned. One’s first thoughts when trying to apply these verses to our contemporary world, which is always our intent when we read any ancient document, is that with so much access to information by way of the internet and other sources we can easily jump ‘god to god’, and stray from God, so that our loyalty is questionable.

 

This is not just a situation of people learning about other religions, or studying comparative religion. Instead, the problem could be, that, like a streetwalker, one never fully commits to any religion, and possible never commits to any person as well.

 

So, what I see possible, is that Jeremiah speaks to us now by questioning our commitment. Are we committed totally to God and to Jesus? Or do we try to practice three or four creeds at once, like a person that seriously dates 3 or 4 people, but never is really serious about anyone? Jeremiah complains about promiscuity. Our lack of loyalty and commitment.

 

Think about it, and us know what you think.

Pray for peace,

Bill

Prayer List: Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

 

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Psalm 36:5-10

Jeremiah 3:1-5

Acts 8:18-24

 

Psalm 36:5-12

The Message (MSG)

5-6 God’s love is meteoric,
his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,
his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness
nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,
slips through the cracks.

7-9 How exquisite your love, O God!
How eager we are to run under your wings,
To eat our fill at the banquet you spread
as you fill our tankards with Eden spring water.
You’re a fountain of cascading light,
and you open our eyes to light.

10-12 Keep on loving your friends;
do your work in welcoming hearts.
Don’t let the bullies kick me around,
the moral midgets slap me down.
Send the upstarts sprawling
flat on their faces in the mud.

Jeremiah 3:1-5

The Message (MSG)

Your Sex-and-Religion Obsessions

3 God’s Message came to me as follows:

“If a man’s wife
walks out on him
And marries another man,
can he take her back as if nothing had happened?
Wouldn’t that raise a huge stink
in the land?
And isn’t that what you’ve done—
‘whored’ your way with god after god?
And now you want to come back as if nothing had happened.”
God’s Decree.

2-5 “Look around at the hills.
Where have you not had sex?
You’ve camped out like hunters stalking deer.
You’ve solicited many lover-gods,
Like a streetwalking whore
chasing after other gods.
And so the rain has stopped.
No more rain from the skies!
But it doesn’t even faze you. Brazen as whores,
you carry on as if you’ve done nothing wrong.
Then you have the nerve to call out, ‘My father!
You took care of me when I was a child. Why not now?
Are you going to keep up your anger nonstop?’
That’s your line. Meanwhile you keep sinning nonstop.”

Acts 8:18-24

The Message (MSG)

18-19 When Simon saw that the apostles by merely laying on hands conferred the Spirit, he pulled out his money, excited, and said, “Sell me your secret! Show me how you did that! How much do you want? Name your price!”

20-23 Peter said, “To hell with your money! And you along with it. Why, that’s unthinkable—trying to buy God’s gift! You’ll never be part of what God is doing by striking bargains and offering bribes. Change your ways—and now! Ask the Master to forgive you for trying to use God to make money. I can see this is an old habit with you; you reek with money-lust.”

24 “Oh!” said Simon, “pray for me! Pray to the Master that nothing like that will ever happen to me!”

 

Your Old Men Shall Dream Dreams 032812

Plaque with the prophet Joel. Syria or Palestine?

Plaque with the prophet Joel. Syria or Palestine? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

This blog comes to you from the people at Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

 

Your Old Men Shall Dream Dreams 032812

The title comes from Acts 2:17 and the entire verse says: 17‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.

That has always struck me as a powerful statement, and also a phrase of great music and poetry.

The hard part is deciding whether we are young men, or sons and daughters, or old men, because in one way or another we all are learning to prophecy, to fear or to dread the future, or to dream dreams of the future as old men (and old women, I add).

I’ve been having such dreams, and they always include a sense of peace, a sense of love and caring, and they always include a closeness to God.

Whoever you know or can talk to that is old: ask them what are their dreams of the future.

Pray for peace.

Bill

Peace Mennonite Church keeps a prayer list for those in need. If you need prayer, or want to e-mail our pastor, e-mail billd @ peacemennonitechurch.net (Take out the extra spaces to use this e-mail—the spaces confuse spam generators).

Pray with us!

We are praying as a church, and attempting to follow the centuries’ old tradition of praying with other Christians three times a day. We are following the prayer liturgy at www.commonprayer.net

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved. Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO Permission is granted for one-time non-commercial use with proper attribution.

Scriptures follow the meditation and thoughts. Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

 

Subscribe to our blog! Delivery daily by e-mail. Click the button on the right.

 

Psalm 119:9-16

Isaiah 44:1-8

Acts 2:14-24

 

Psalm 119:9-16

 

 

9How can young people keep their way pure? By guarding it according to your word.

10With my whole heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments.

11I treasure your word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you.

12Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes.

13With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth.

14I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches.

15I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways.

16I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Isaiah 44:1-8

44But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen! 2Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you in the womb and will help you: Do not fear, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen. 3For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon your descendants, and my blessing on your offspring. 4They shall spring up like a green tamarisk, like willows by flowing streams. 5This one will say, “I am the Lord’s,” another will be called by the name of Jacob, yet another will write on the hand, “The Lord’s,” and adopt the name of Israel. 6Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. 7Who is like me? Let them proclaim it, let them declare and set it forth before me. Who has announced from of old the things to come? Let them tell us what is yet to be. 8Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? You are my witnesses! Is there any god besides me? There is no other rock; I know not one.

Acts 2:14-24

14But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: 17‘In the last days it will be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. 18Even upon my slaves, both men and women, in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. 19And I will show portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist. 20The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the coming of the Lord’s great and glorious day. 21Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 22“You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— 23this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. 24But God raised him up, having freed him from death, because it was impossible for him to be held in its power.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

Drama, Despair and Disaster (almost) 080211

Hearts

Image by Jetske19 via Flickr

This blog comes to you from the people at

Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO

www.peacemennonitechurch.net

Scripture follow the meditation and thoughts.

Scriptures for the day selected by http://www.commontexts.org/

Subscribe to our blog. Delivery daily by e-mail. Click the button on the left.

Psalm 17:1-7, 15

Genesis 32:3-21

Acts 2:37-47

Drama, Despair and Disaster (almost) 080211

Imagine you had a machine that clanged, made grinding sounds, and forever seemed immanently to collapse and injure people whenever you desperately needed it to work! I have actually had some such rust colored pieces of junk on my farm and tried to use them for years.

In America we have been watching such a machine on the news for several months, Steadily and slowly this machine kept getting louder. And the threats of imminent disaster and harm have overshadowed the cries of the poor from around the world—refugees in Africa, drought in the southern US, refugees all over the world fleeing from hunger, war and terror.

This metaphor frames my disheartedness over the United States government and it antics this past few months. These are expected to end today with a vote on the debt ceiling bringing some closure.

The problem is of course not with the government, or any government; with these people or any people. The problem (as I see it) is that I can not yet preach like Peter who in Acts 2: 37 “37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart….” Spiritually, all of us who are Christians need to be able to preach like this, and spiritually, cut to the heart of humanity. Our government’s hard heart is our hard heart; the government’s inability to decide is our inability to decide what to do and say and preach about Jesus.

Pray for the voice of God to make all Christians preachers like Peter—to talk directly to the heart of humanity, and therefore, Pray for Peace.

Peace

(brother) Bill

Psalm 17

1Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.

2From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right.

3If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress.

4As for what others do, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent.

5My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.

6I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words.

7Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.

15As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

Genesis 32:3-21

3Jacob sent messengers before him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom, 4instructing them, “Thus you shall say to my lord Esau: Thus says your servant Jacob, ‘I have lived with Laban as an alien, and stayed until now; 5and I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, male and female slaves; and I have sent to tell my lord, in order that I may find favor in your sight.’“ 6The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, “We came to your brother Esau, and he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.” 7Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people that were with him, and the flocks and herds and camels, into two companies, 8thinking, “If Esau comes to the one company and destroys it, then the company that is left will escape.”

9And Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your kindred, and I will do you good,’ 10I am not worthy of the least of all the steadfast love and all the faithfulness that you have shown to your servant, for with only my staff I crossed this Jordan; and now I have become two companies. 11Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him; he may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children. 12Yet you have said, ‘I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted because of their number.’“

13So he spent that night there, and from what he had with him he took a present for his brother Esau, 14two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15thirty milch camels and their colts, forty cows and ten bulls, twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16These he delivered into the hand of his servants, every drove by itself, and said to his servants, “Pass on ahead of me, and put a space between drove and drove.” 17He instructed the foremost, “When Esau my brother meets you, and asks you, ‘To whom do you belong? Where are you going? And whose are these ahead of you?’ 18then you shall say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob; they are a present sent to my lord Esau; and moreover he is behind us.’“ 19He likewise instructed the second and the third and all who followed the droves, “You shall say the same thing to Esau when you meet him, 20and you shall say, ‘Moreover your servant Jacob is behind us.’“ For he thought, “I may appease him with the present that goes ahead of me, and afterwards I shall see his face; perhaps he will accept me.” 21So the present passed on ahead of him; and he himself spent that night in the camp.

Acts 2:37-47

37Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” 38Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.” 40And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Expectation and Commitment 051511

The last supper room in Jerusalem, Cenacle

Image via Wikipedia

Sermon for Sunday 051511

Su15   Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 2:42-47

Psalm 23

1 Peter 2:19-25

John 10:1-10

Acts 2:42-47

42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Psalm 23

1The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

2He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;

3he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

4Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

1 Peter 2:19-25

19For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. 20If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval. 21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. 22“He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” 23When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

John 10:1-10

10“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Expectation and Commitment 051511

 

Over the years, I’ve come to return time and again to the subject of the early church, the very early church, that period of time that occurred right after the execution of Jesus Christ.

It is an important period of time because right after Jesus’ death what we can look at is the most immediate, the freshest look at Jesus through the ideas and words of people who knew Jesus face-to-face or knew Jesus from the social context of the Mediterranean at that time, of the Jewish state and scholastic tradition at that time, and of the Roman Empire. For people like us who were not alive in the historical instant of Jesus’ life, the reflection of Jesus’ life in the lives of those nearby give us a quick idea of what Jesus meant, and how Jesus meant his disciples to carry forward his message.

The book of Acts, from which we read this morning, was written by the same author as the book of Luke, and we could call Acts ‘Luke 2’. In Acts the narrative and vocabulary of Luke continue smoothly, breaking at the end of Luke with Jesus’ death and resurrection and continuing into Acts with the narrative.

The pattern in Acts goes like this. Three summaries of the work and life of the apostles is separated by more detailed narrative, but with less comment. Many of the events in between the summaries are events that could be described as trials and suffering.

Our scripture reading for today, which is Acts 2: 42-47. This is a striking description of the common life they shared.

 42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, 47praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

There are two major linguistic words within this verse. The first is the Greek word Proskatereo. This word was first used in Acts to describe the Apostles’ in the upper room, where they waited for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, as recounted in Acts 2:1-6.

Acts 2:1-6

The Coming of the Holy Spirit

2When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. 6And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each.

The word Proskatereo is used in this to explain the Apostles’ expectation of the Holy Spirit to come to them in the upper room and the same sort of expectant commitment to the coming of the Holy Spirit.

The appropriate response to God’s promise is active expectation that God will continue to do what God promised.

The second Greek word in today’s scripture passage is the Greek word translated here as ‘in common’ is Koinoinia. It is defined generally as ‘communion by intimate participation’.

People have interpreted this in so many ways. Included within individuals and different denominations have interpreted this into reality range from the Hutterite who own absolutely everything in common, to the Amish, who have individual farms and homes and businesses but maintain a fairly rigid mutuality and commonality, as do the Hutterites. Mennonites, Church of the Brethern, Bruderhof Communities, German Baptists as well as other groups have defined this commonality differently and to large modern churches, there may be no commonality except a preacher hired in common, and a choir and a place of worship.

What all Christian communities, however defined should share is a shared existential reality and an anticipatory future.

The scripture from Acts 2:43 says the apostles performed wonders and signs. Acts 2:45 says that  as a community in communion they distributed to those in need, the fruit of the community. Thus a pattern of Christian life emerges from these earliest Christians.

This pattern has two sides to it which are balanced. The first side in faith. It is faith in Jesus Christ that saves us, faith says, and faith in God. This faith is not so much faith in a system of belief, as it is simple faith that a relationship exists between yourself and God.

The second side, or second half in this early pattern of Christian life, is that being a Chrisitian is not so much just believing. It is also living. Being a follower of Jesus Christ makes believers in a community of spiritual engaged participation, where believers encourage one another, learn together.

We are called also to perform signs and wonders on earth. Following the Greek word proskartereo is homothumadon. When we act with homothumadon, which means ‘in one accord’ together as a community of Christ, we do our part to eliminate hunger, homelessness, child abuse, discrimination and inequality.

God’s spirit, in and through us, performs signs and wonders on the earth. Mutual and unified commitment engenders marvelous acts of social justice within the community and beyond.

Being an apostle or disciple of Jesus is not just agreeing to a system of belief, it is also a way of life. As James says ‘Faith without works is dead’.

This is why our prayers so often ask for the Holy Spirit to be present. It is a promise of God and we expect our God to keep that promise and to fill each of us and all of us with the Holy Spirit. So, we have to be disciples that pray for the Holy Spirit to be with each of us and to be with our spiritual community. As believers, with our hearts and souls filled with the Holy Spirit we can together become devoted disciples in prayer, Bible study and meditation and in the work of God’s Kingdom that we are called to do.

As always we acknowledge that this church belongs to Jesus Christ, who always directs us a community of communion.

 

 

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